Image size: 1600 x 1018 pixel. 151 KB
Date: Monday, 27 September 1943
Place: Split, Croatia, Yugoslavia
Photographer: Dr. Gruber
Armoured units of the SS-Freiwilligen-Gebirgs-Division "Prinz Eugen" and the Grenadier-Regiment 92 passing through the streets of the newly-captured city of Split, Croatia, during Operation Achse. In the foreground: A French-built Hotchkiss H38 tank (captured by the Germans after 1940) of the "Prinz Eugen" Division's armoured company, photographed from a vehicle of the 92nd Grenadier Regiment. Operation Achse (German: Fall Achse, "Case Axis"), originally called Operation Alaric (German: Unternehmen Alarich), was the codename for the German plan to forcibly disarm the Italian armed forces after the armistice with the Allies in 1943. Several German divisions had entered Italy after the fall of Benito Mussolini in July 1943, while Italy was officially still an ally of Germany, despite the protests of the new Italian government under Pietro Badoglio. The Armistice of Cassibile was made public on 8 September. German forces moved rapidly to take over the Italian zones of occupation in the Balkans and southern France, and to disarm Italian forces in Italy. In some cases, the Italian troops, that had no superior orders and suffered many desertions, resisted the Germans, most notably in the Greek island of Cephalonia, where over 5,100 men of the 33rd Acqui Division were massacred after running out of ammunition and surrendering; in Rome, after the royal family and the government had fled, a disorganized defense by the Italian troops stationed around the capital was unable to defeat the German attack. Additionally, individual soldiers or whole units, like the 24th Pinerolo Division in Thessaly, went over to the local resistance movements. Only in Sardinia, Corsica, Calabria and in the southern part of Apulia were Italian troops able to offer successful resistance and hold off the Germans until relieved by the arrival of the Allies.